Marise Maas

Schemes And Scenarios

October 27 - November 10 2018

There exists a reality that is best communicated by means of a visual language. To access that nebulous realm, Marise Maas' art making always begins in a state of quietude. The Melbourne-based artist describes her paintings as anecdotes that manifest the ‘remarkable mundane' in everyday life. Devoid of pretension and with elegant simplicity, Maas articulates her perceptions of the little schemes and scenarios going on around her.

Horses are recurrent subjects in the paintings. A fascination with these noble animals developed in early childhood, she was always drawing them. When her family emigrated from the Netherlands to Tasmania in the 1980s, Maas got to own a horse for the very first time. The exhilarating freedom of exploring her new environment on horseback ‘has made horses forever memorable'. Maas divulges that she often employs horses as ‘stand-ins for people' when orchestrating scenarios - ‘they're better looking and not as distracting to a work's underlying ethos'.

Totemic-like symbols connoting musings on humanity's idiosyncrasies, these horses are creatures seemingly tamed and harnessed by social norms but essentially ‘wild at heart'. A sense of gentle humour and incredulity at the schemes and scope of people's attention-seeking antics attends the Trick and Legwork imagery. The World Whirl painting of a horse sling-suspended above the spinning earth is a more sober, existential meditation.

Other works reflect domestic scenarios and the everyday decisions encountered therein. The titles and painterly renditions convey the artist's variable responses. Household is a wonderfully chaotic piece, its linear freneticism translating a fraught mood. Conversely, the orderly regimentation of Globes Cool and Warm reveals a somewhat laissez-faire reaction to the question of choice.

The Rainlessness work was initially just a playful evocation of Maas' dislike of camping. If that activity proved absolutely unavoidable, then a tent in which she could at least stand upright would be a prerequisite! The background's intense yellow hue subsequently suggested the title and a linkage to the current drought situation.

Maas' creative approach is one of process rather than predetermined intent. There are no preliminary sketches and chance plays an integral role. She generally has several canvases simultaneously on the go to avoid overworking an initial impulse. Not only is this a necessity given her slow-drying oil medium, it also engenders spontaneity and serendipitous discoveries in previous markings.

There is a quiet nourishment to be derived in viewing Maas' works. The paintings are huge. Beyond the metaphorical quirkiness of the subject matter, their curious appeal stems from Maas' innate sensibility to the symbolic values of the pictorial elements: line, shape, colour, texture. Afloat in horizonless, monochromatic expanses, the ambiguous narratives have all the immediacy and directness of primitive or child art. Affirming an instinctual reality, Maas' iconography transcends its boundaries and ushers us into recognition of the subliminal schemes and scenarios that undoubtedly exist within our own daily lives.


» Back to previous page